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Exercise

In addition to being essential to general health and well-being, exercise is helpful in managing many MS symptoms.

Lisa
Diagnosed in 1998
Publication

Exercise as Part of Everyday Life

Physical activity can be a regular part of staying healthy if you have MS. Includes tips on handling MS symptoms.

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Publication

Stretching and Range of Motion for People with MS

Illustrated manual showing range of motion, stretching, and balance exercises for at-home program.

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In this article

Exercise / physical activity with MS

Judy Boone, physical therapist Lynn Williams, Dan Melfi and Dave Altman discuss the physical activities they enjoy / have modified to continue while living with MS.

Overview

In addition to being essential to general health and well-being, exercise and physical activity are helpful in managing many MS symptoms. Studies of aerobic exercise programs for people living with MS show some of the benefits to be improvements in:

  • cardiovascular fitness
  • strength
  • bladder and bowel function
  • fatigue
  • mood
  • cognitive function
  • bone density
  • flexibility

An exercise program should fit your interests and abilities. It may need to be adjusted overtime. A physical therapist or fitness professional knowledgeable about MS can also be helpful in designing an individualized exercise program.

To find adaptive sports and recreation opportunities for people living with MS, check out the Finding A Sport to Love page.

Physical activity

Exercise doesn't have to be a rigorous cardiovascular workout to provide benefits.  Physical activity in general is beneficial and can include a variety of things most people can do in the comfort of their home or community.  Physical activity includes but is not limited to:

  • gardening
  • household chores
  • cooking
  • walking the dog
  • taking the stairs instead of the elevator

Exercise in water

The unique qualities of water provide exceptional benefits to people with MS, including stretching tight muscles and improving flexibility. Water helps people with MS move in ways they may not be able to on land while keeping their body temperature cool. It is important to know that the pool temperature should not exceed 84 degrees Fahrenheit for people with MS.

Tips for a successful workout

  • Stay hydrated-cold water will help keep your body temperature low
  • Exercise in a cool room and if outside, exercise at cooler times during the day
  • Remember to stretch afterward
  • No pain no gain should not be your mantra
  • Start low and go slow
  • Consult a medical professional before starting a new exercise routine
  • Prioritize safety to reduce risk of injury

Exercise Demonstration Videos

Exercise is adaptable for all levels of ability – so whether you have little to no disability, moderate or advanced disability, it is safe for you to exercise. Check out these demonstration videos to learn specific exercise tips. *Disclaimer: Consult a medical professional before starting a new exercise routine and follow personal safety precautions to reduce the risk of injuries.*  

Resources

Publications ​Telelearnings Web-based Exercise Videos
  • 14 Weeks to a Healthier You - free, personalized, web-based physical activity and nutrition program targeted to people with mobility limitations, chronic health conditions and physical disabilities. Created by National Center for Health, Physical Activity and Disability (NCHPAD), the program can help you get moving and make healthy nutrition choices.
  • ChairFit with Nancy- series of free exercise videos developed by a physical therapist with years of experience working with people with MS
Momentum Magazine articles Yoga Aquatic Physical Therapy
  • The Aquatic Physical Therapy and MS video produced by Laura Diamond, MS, PT, Diamond Physical Therapy Associates, PC, and Jill McElligott, PT, DPT, offers an introduction to the potential benefits of aquatic physical therapy for managing MS symptoms and enhancing fitness. It also provides interviews with a neurologist, a physiatrist and an aquatic physical therapist, all of whom specialize in working with people with MS, as well as with people with MS about their perspectives on aquatics exercise.
Pilates Physical Activity Guidelines

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